Study: Socioeconomic Status Bites Into Low-Income Dental Care

“Money makes the world go ’round” is an age-old adage that proves true in many aspects of life, including dental care.

A recent study published in the Journal of Dental Research shows that low-incomeindividuals have fewer teeth than their well-off neighbors.

The researchers evaluated the association between a state’s financial status and tooth loss among more than 380,000 residents of these U.S. areas. The scientists measured the states’ wealth based on the average household income and how many counties have fluoridated water supplies.

The investigators said that their findings indicated a strong association between socioeconomic status and dental health. Compared to residents of states with five percent higher mean family incomes, people in disadvantaged regions had a 20 percent increased risk of suffering from tooth loss.

The study’s findings also showed that in 14 different countries, individuals who received the most dental care were those belonging to the highest income bracket.

“Inequalities in oral health and access to care are a growing global concern. These [studies] address this growing concern and its impact on elderly populations and low-income individuals,” said E. Dianna Rekow, president of the International and American Associations for Dental Research.

People who do not have access to fluoridated water supplies may consider purchasing bottled drinking water or toothpastes that have added fluoride. Although these products may be more expensive than non-enriched brands, preventive oral care may save money in the long-run and help protect against oral diseases that can pose a serious health threat if they are left untreated.

Some parents think that their children will not develop dental problems so long as their teeth look clean and the kids do not complain of pain. However, early signs of tooth decay or gum disease may not be visible or cause discomfort. Regular visits to the dentist for routine dental care can help diagnose and prevent these dental care issues.

According to the California Dental Association, more than 50 percent of children in the state experience some degree of tooth decay before they enter kindergarten. This statistic indicates that low-income parents should seek dental care for their kids through state-funded programs or reduced-cost services, which are sometimes offered by local providers.

“The progressive nature of dental disease can quickly diminish the general health and quality of life for affected infants, toddlers, and children. Failure to identify and prevent dental disease has consequential and costly long-term adverse effects,” the CDA states.

If financial constraints are impacting your family’s dental health, check for an affordable way to keep up with dental appointments.

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